North Macedonian parliament to reconvene after election

North Macedonia’s parliament convenes today following an inconclusive election on July 15. The election saw the ruling Social Democrats (SDSM),

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Photo: REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski

North Macedonia’s parliament convenes today following an inconclusive election on July 15.

The election saw the ruling Social Democrats (SDSM), led by former prime minister Zoran Zaev, win a narrow plurality—fifteen seats short of a majority in the parliament—and defeat the nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE). SDSM secured a coalition with the ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), allowing them to form a government. Zaev’s success at holding on to power will keep North Macedonia on a tentative path toward EU integration for the near future. Once hampered by tensions with Greece over its previous name (Macedonia), talks began for the country’s accession into the EU in March.

However, the coalition agreement includes a proviso mandating an ethnic Albanian PM after three years. This may provoke nationalist ire, similar to that which erupted in 2017 when a mob stormed parliament after it elected an Albanian as speaker. Nationalism remains potent enough to return VMRO-DPMNE to power, which may stall or even reverse progress toward EU membership significantly. Coupled with the EU’s shift in focus from expansion in the Balkans to internal reform, domestic politics will likely prolong the integration process well into the 2020s.

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